The Great Sand Wyrm
Disclaimer: Yep, it's a dragon. Dragons are one of the more romanticized and overused creatures of fantasy and as such, its difficult to create a truly unique one without losing the essence of what a dragon is. Nevertheless, I wanted to create this Wyrm to fit snugly within Ouzquin Dremorix Lore.
Sezzat stood among the ranks of the army - the Ouzquin Dremorix woman gripped her barbed spear tightly. Again, the armies from the south came to claim the desert and again, the Quinnix folk had to mobilize their troops to route them! Just three days ago, she had been warmly pressed against her partner in her bunk when the errand boy had come banging; waking her up rudely and informing her that the southerners were on march!
She had been forced to travel south with her patrol to meet the interlopers, missing her moment of glory in the Arena. And to make matters worse, thick, black clouds had oozed over the sky, bringing the promise of rain and causing the land to grow dim. Rain was a good thing in the desert; so long as you had suitable shelter from the weather and the dangers which the rain brings out.
And there, atop an adjacent sand dune before them stood the fifteen-hundred strong southern army. They were garbed outlandishly and Sezzat could hear their strange language on the wind.
"By Axtrami!" Sezzak cursed beneath her breath, "Why must they always return!?" This was the third time in as many years that they had invaded and each time they had been slain by the Quinnix army, but they did not show fear! Sezzat wiped the first droplets of rain from her face - it was getting dark.
Finally the bass call of the Quinnix Battle-horn reverberated across the dune, signalling that their charge was imminent. Sezzat raised a hand to her patrol, indicating to get ready, and took a step forward. It was so dark - like is was night time! She could barely see the army in the distance. Odd; the clouds alone couldn't make such darkness, surely!
Finally, Sezzat realized something else odd; she had been so wrapped in her own thoughts that she didn't realize how quiet it had become! The sound of the Ouzquin Dremorix army had ceased after the call of the horn.
Sezzat turned around to a most peculiar sight. The army stood still - perfectly still! It was as though her peers were all frozen in time! What's more, the drizzle of rain that had started now hung in individual droplets, suspended in the air.
"These outsiders are something of a nuisance, aren't they, Sezzat?"
The Quinnix woman blinked. The genderless voice seemed to come from within her own mind! Sezzat scanned the troops and spotted movement about three rows back. A heavily robed figure was pacing slowly along the immobile line of warriors. In the darkness, Sezzat couldn't see much of the person, but she could have sworn that instead of brushing against the sand the robes melded cleanly into it, as though they were made of the desert! "What...? Who are you!?"
The figure ignored the question, "They come to control the desert, Sezzat. They do not realize that I am the desert; I cannot be tamed." The voice was matter-of-fact; without emotion. Sezzat pushed forward, trying to squeeze her way through the tightly packed formation of Quinnix fighters, but the figure seemed to be able to glide between them with ease, and always managed to mockingly stay several rows away from her.
"I can help you, Sezzat. Your army is formidable, but you are mortal. Each time they fail, they believe that they can adapt to best you. To ward them off forever they must feel hopelessness. They must witness the terror of something unstoppable." in Sezzat's mind, laughter echoed. "I think it's time I loosened the chain..." from somewhere within Sezzat's consciousness came a wilting howl.
Sezzat had stopped trying to reach the figure; she realized now with whom she was in audience with. " Axtrami..." she uttered, and dropped to her hands and knees To pay homage, her Ouzala at her side.
"Stand up, Sezzat - you dishonour yourself by assuming your worth is less than any other."
as Sezzat slowly rose once more, peering through the people to try and catch a glimpse of her god, Axtrami continued.
"Take heed and beware, Sezzat. Once the Obsidian Wolf's power is unleashed, it is not so easily rechained. Consider what happens henceforth a test of your peoples' prowess."
"We will not let you down!"
Without another word the cloaked figure seemed to melt away into the sand. In Axtrami's absence, Sezzat immediately felt an overwhelming sense of terror blanket her senses - so powerful that the hardened warrior actually emptied her stomach unceremoniously onto the sand. Somethingwas wrong! Axtrami had left but the world was still frozen around her!
Sezzat frantically pushed her way forward to the front of the troops once more. She peered out over the sand but the darkness enveloped the invading army.
In the silence of this frozen world, Sezzat noticed movement; a grinding of glass resounded out in the middle of the dunes where the two armies stood. Somewhere out in the sand, two swirling eyes of magma opened. Sezzat witnessed a wolven figure of crimson-stained obsidian lock its eyes on her. The Quinnix woman screamed as Vauraki howled. The heavens responded with a shaft of lightning which slammed into the wolf and seared Sezzat's eyes.
Nefy-Sefrab adjusted his heavy gator-hide tunic as he surveyed the desert folk across the dunes - the heat was intense in this damnable desert even with the clouds above! Still, he liked the sands - it was a harsh place; like his swampy homeland, in a way. Different, but at least as harsh.
"Sifa!" a slave-boy came running over to Nefy-Sefrab, addressing him by his rank, "The Raji humbly inform you that their preparations are complete, Sifa Nefy-Sefrab!"
"Good, boy. Run, now; go tell the Raji that they should ready their warriors for the charge-horn."
The slave-boy bowed as deeply as he could while still moving, then turned and ran back to the thick of the army.
Things were going well, Nefy-Sefrab thought to himself. The Quinnix folk fought with a equal amounts zeal and fury, but each with each defeat at the hands of the desert folk, Nefy-Sefrab's army learned something new. And now rain! Nefy-Sefrab smiled at this good omen; rain reminded him of his home land.
"Olli-Falux!" a burly man standing near Nefy-Sefrab stood to attention. "Sound the charge-horn!"
The man Brought a large bone horn to his lips and blew while Nefy-Sefrab withdrew his Scimitar from its scabbard and raised it in the air. As one, the army began descending down the sand dune. Yes, this was a glorious day for battle! Somewhere in the distance, Nefy-Sefrab could have sworn he heard a wolf howl. Odd - He did not think wolves made home in the desert...
The charge faltered, some fighters falling over in the haste to stop as a massive shaft of lightning speared down from the heavens directly into the middle of the two dunes. Instead of disappearing, the lightning lingered, spearing into the sand with a resounding *VZZT!*. For a full five seconds the electricity danced before finally it ceased, leaving a large, red-glowing surface on the sand. There was a moment of silent serenity wherein Nefy-Sefrab opened his mouth to resume to charge, but then the ground shook and groaned deeply. The sands shifted and convulsed before them and out of the center of the glowing, glassy sand where the lightning struck, an immense, reptilian head arose as though breaching the surface of water.
Two massive arms came next - their clawed hands landing heavily on the sand, sending shock-waves which put most of the army off balance - followed by the rest of the creature, pulled up out of its sandy grave by its arms. Sand flew everywhere as the beast arose - boasting two massive wings, a long, muscular tail and a line of glass spikes along its spine and tail. It was scaled and reptilian in appearance, however the scales appeared to be made of sandstone. Streaks of red-tinged obsidian marred it's surface in lines like lightning, and two obsidian orbs crackled with a cobalt electricity.
Nefy-Sefrab's orders froze in his mouth. It was a Great Wyrm! But not one such as he had ever seen before! For one, the beast was immense! Twice the size of any of the legendary dragons he had heard described to him, and this one appeared to be made of the desert itself! Hardened sand and glass made up its form! Could the Ouzquin Dremorix have possibly summoned such a beast to aid them!?
The beast stretched its head up and roared defiantly at the clouds above, its cry nearly identical to the peal of thunder. It then lowered its head down to human-height and stretched its wings out wide behind it, sand raining down from them. The Sand Wyrm opened its mouth wide and directed it's head at the majority of the invading army and from within its maw, a whirring, crackling sound began. An ominous, cobalt glow began growing from within, and the sound increased in pitch and volume as though it were an electrical gadget overloading.
Nefy-Sefrab was the first to realize what was about to happen, and the foreign man screamed and turned, pushing his way through his own army in an attempt to get some kind of distance from himself and the charging maw of death. The rest of the army followed suit, soon after.
Death came with the sound of a cracking of thunder. The electrical discharge was not a neat and tidy bolt, but a chaotic wave of lightning which danced through hundreds of bodies, charring them to the bone and leaving them as molten corpses. The remaining army attempted to climb the dune to retreat, and the Great Wyrm nuzzled its head into the ground, strongly inhaling copious amounts of sand. With unnatural force it beat its wings and lifted off the ground, giving chase. The Wyrm easily caught the army, expelling the inhaled sand in forceful blasts which tore away at flesh like sandpaper.
Much of the army was slain in minutes by this single entity. Nefy-Sefrab and no more than a hundred of his soldiers escaped the fury of the dragon. Nefy-Sefrab was determined to reach his homeland. He must tell his lord of the horrors that the natives of the Karikun desert control! The desert is unclaimable and he would lead no more army into the shifting sands.
Sezzat stood, along the dune; her vision had slowly returned after the shaft of lightning, and she saw that time moved once more. She witnessed the Great Sila'Khrysath - the Sand Wyrm - arise like a god of death and lay waste to the interlopers. The Quinnix army had just stood, dumbfounded at the sight.
Once the foreigners were slain, the dragon set its sights on their army. Screams were heard as the dragon drifted almost lazily over to them, but it flew straight over the terrified people and headed north.
Sezzat moved quickly; she had to report her vision with the commander! And she had a feeling that she knew where the Sila'Khrysath was heading. She hoped Bareka's defenses were up to the task of warding off Vauraki's pet.
The Trial of Axtrami
Marc sat with Shera and Tullon, shivering in the hunter's hall in Bareka. This was the desert; it shouldn't be so cold and wet! A great thunderstorm had been blanketing the sky for the last two days, preventing Marc and his fellows from leaving the city, so they had been invited to share drinks with the Ouzquin Dremorix hunters in their guild house.
Izami, a grizzled, old Quinnix fellow sat with the group, laughing good-naturedly at their misery, "What is wrong, outlanders? Weather got you down!?"
"Don't start, Izami!" Marc muttered half jokingly, "I'm in no mood to hear..."
Marc stopped mid-sentence as a Quinnix youth burst through the door, soaked to the bone. A massive grin plastered the teen's face. "What is it, Jezzat?" Izami asked the youth, standing from his seat at the intrusion.
A peal of thunder cracked outside, accompanied with a bright light outside the door behind Jezzat. "Sila'Khrysath, Izami! The Sila'Khrysath has arrived!"
In unison, the entire hunters hall whooped and hollered, cheering and immediately rising and grabbing their weapons.
"What is happening, Izami!?" Shera asked, a sign of worry on her face.
"Axtrami has sent The Sila'Khrysath! What a moment; you outsiders have arrived at a once-in-a-lifetime moment! The Great Sand Wyrm attacks Bareka! Hide in Seva Noxen with the children if you wish, or come join us in glory!"
Tullon ran to the door, staring outside to the skies. For a moment, nothing... and then A massive draconian figure flew overhead, screaming thunderous defiance. Tullon moaned, "What kind of god sends a nightmare to attack its subjects!?"
Izzat laughed and gave Tullon a pat on the shoulder as he shuffled out the door. "A god that doesn't want to shelter us from the night, but make us run forth, screaming defiance at the dark!"
Once every two to four decades, a Great Sand Wyrm assaults Bareka. The Ouzquin Dremorix believe it is sent by Axtrami as a trial and testament of their skill and abilities. The creature is not easily felled, and most of the able bodied Quinnix warriors take up arms for the battle.
It is considered a blessing, not a curse when the Sila'Khrysath attacks - and even if many die, they are thought of as glorious deaths. Anyone who strikes a significant blow is showered with glory and accolades for years to come, and whoever lands the felling blow is considered no less than a hero of the people.
The damage done to the city is often significant, but over the next year the entire community helps to rebuild. No building is safe from destruction, so the elderly, children and infirm make the trek to Seva Noxen to shelter while the attack takes place. Interestingly, The Sila'Khrysath does not attack this line of folk making their way to the cave system. If any outsiders are in the town, they may take shelter in there, or join in the battle for a chance at the glory.
Anatomy of the Great Sand Wyrm
The story of the Sila'Khrysath's origin is widely accepted by the Ouzquin Dremorix, who believe the event occurred several hundred years ago.
Ever since then, it is said that sometimes when lightning strikes the desert, a Great Sand Wyrm is borne of the sand, given life and form by Axtrami, and ambition and fury by Vauraki.
The Sila'Khrysath is dragonlike, but is in fact elemental; it created of the elements. Its flesh and scales are of rough sandstone and crimson stained Obsidian, and its eyes, teeth, spines and bones are also glass and obsidian intermingled. The creature is massive. It is several stories tall and has a wingspan that stretches many meters across. Being elemental, they are created the one size and small variations of the Sila'Khrysath do not exist.
The Desert's fury given form
The Sila'Khrysath is a powerhouse of destructive ability. Its claws and teeth a jagged chunks of super-hardened obsidian capable of puncturing even metal. It's tail is long and powerful, used often to crush foes - or the shelter that it's enemies are hiding inside.
The Great Sand Wyrm's scales are rough sandstone, and will painfully rasp flesh to the bone like sandpaper. Attacks with blunt weapons are absorbed by the sand but jagged, tearing weapons - such as the Ouzquin Dremorix's barbed spear - are able to tear away at it.
A voice like thunder, this Wyrm is able to send a shockwave of sound out with its roar, knocking over and instilling terror into all but the sturdiest of foes.
Battery Operated Death Machine
The Sila'Khrysath does not breathe fire as per the standard legends of Wyrms. Instead, it snorts up vast amounts of sands into its large lungs. At will, it can exhale this sand at drastic speeds, ripping away flesh like wet paper. Once its lungs are emptied, it must devote time to inhale more sand before it can perform this attack again.
The most fearsome of The Great Sand Wyrm's attacks however, is the uncontrolled lightning burst which it can expel. The Sila'Khrysath is equipped with an 'organic battery' above its lungs, made from trace amounts of copper and zinc within the sand which has been clumped together, as well as other trace elements. When the Sand Wyrm's lungs are filled with churning sand, it causes friction and a static charge much like the lightning sometimes found within sand storms.
This charge is stored within the Sila'Khrysath's organic battery and can be utilized in two ways. Firstly, it can be released in a controlled form, through the Elemental Dragon's claws and teeth, energizing it to enhance the damage it deals.
The other way it uses this energy is in a chaotic wave of untempered lightning, burst from its mouth. To do this, The Sila'Khrysath's battery must already be charged and its lungs must be filled with sand. It then opens its mouth and inhales violently. This causes the sand within to move violently, creating a greater charge. This begins to overload the battery within the Wyrm. As the charge grows, a Cobalt glow of lightning begins to emit from the beast's mouth, and a whirring electical charge sounds, increasing in pitch and volume. Finally, the battery reaches it's saturation point and all the energy is expelled violently from its mouth.
This attack can only be performed once in a day, as it takes time for the battery to recharge.
When a Sila'Khrysath is slain, all that is left is masses of sand, An Obsidian and Glass skeleton, and it's organic battery. The battery is two feet in diameter and heavy! If it is still charged, it can be used to enchant metallic weapons with an electrical charge for one day by rubbing a weapon against it several times.
If the battery is not charged, it can be recharged by leaving it outside in an electrical storm. It is not recommended to be nearby though, as it attracts lightning easily!
Uses of the Sila'Khrysath
- The Players have just arrived at Bareka, when Axtrami's Trial of the Sand Wyrm begins! If the PC's are of a low level, they would be best off hiding in Seva Noxen (The Sila'khrysath is just about the pinnacle of non-godlike encounters within the Karikun desert.); the Sila'Khrysath can be used to show them what they can aspire to.
If they are a high level, allow them to join into the battle! The glory of defeating it will definitely make them more accepted within Bareka!
- The Sila'Khrysath can be used as a random or specific high-level encounter in the desert. They do exist randomly in the desert and not all of them are made to attack Bareka!
- The PC's are travelling the desert during a storm. In the distance behind them, a bolt of lightning strikes the ground! A Sand Wyrm arises and begins lazily rising into the sky! Bareka is not far away; can the PC's make it to town in time to warn them of the impending danger!?
- A Sila'Khrysath battery could be found in any desert tomb or dungeon as a valuable piece of loot. Not only is it useful for it's enchantment effect, but it's also very prized by the Ouzquin Dremorix and will sell for a hefty sum!
- The Sila'Khrysath can be used as a lore piece in the desert.